Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pandora's Box Revisited

Well, maybe some of you have guessed by my listless and infrequent blogging that I've been struggling with Depression for a while and now Winter Blues (SAD) have piled on top of that. I've slipped back to keeping bad hours - going to bed too late, staying in bed too late to compensate, but still not getting enough rest. I've been a mess even by my own traditional "mess" standards. It's odd because it started back when my evil brother died. Maybe there is some closet mourning going on, though I don't feel like it. He was very ill and suffering, so his death was not tragic. I didn't like him. He was a vile human being - at least to me. I hadn't spoken to him in 20 years, so it isn't like I miss him. He was the last of my immediate family to kick the bucket, which leaves only me. Maybe that's part of it. I've been feeling very mortal of late.

It's an odd thing that when I'm depressed, my physical problems seem more overwhelming. I don't think I'm walking any better or worse than I was but I FEEL more wobbly. Will I make it to the kitchen? Will I make it to the desk? Of course I will... or at least I have so far. I've been toying with the idea of getting a walker to replace my cane. Part of me resists that both because it's an admission of being more fragile - a giving up of some imaginary independence that I don't actually have - and because "old people" (vanity never dies) use walkers and I'm only old-ish. Anyway, the worst part of the kind of depression I've been in is a kind of "brain tired" that goes with it. Thinking feels so hard, like climbing a mountain. And climbing a mountain whose peak keeps getting hidden by thick clouds so that you don't know where it is. I've felt lonely and craved having people around me but at the same time that brain tired makes it feel impossible to be around people because thinking is so bloody hard. This is true for cyberspace as well.

But anyway, I didn't mean to whine. Pandora's Box in today's story is actually kind of a happy story, not at all like the myth where troubles are released into the world. Quite the opposite in fact. A couple of week's before Christmas, the new Schwan's guy (Bill) and I were talking about some music I was playing and he told me to check out a website called Pandora. I didn't really follow through until Christmas Day which was cold and bleak and particularly lonely. Pandora - I forgot to mention - is an online radio station created by something called the Music Genome Project. It offers 40 hours a month of free non-stop, no commercial music of any genre your heart desires and for $36/year you can have an unlimited supply and a few other perks. The way it works is that if you plug in John Denver, it will play his songs and those of similar artists. You can bookmark special ones, check favorites and give a thumbs down to those you hate. When you give a thumbs down, you'll never hear it again. How cool is that? Well - talk about Christmas Miracles - I didn't turn my TV on all Christmas day! I just listened to music. And the same the next day. I've had the TV on again but hardly at all compared to my normal routine. Music really is a healing thing. I don't know that I'm out of the depression woods - and the universe has thrown signs of a tooth going bad into the mix of things for me to obsess and worry about - but I feel much better than I have a ages. Am I fixed? Don't know. But I'm feeling more hopeful.

I hope maybe Pandora will offer the same gift to some of you who still generously stop by here and read and comment that it has to me.

Hope your holidays were rich in love and joy and music. My picture taking has been in a bit of a slump, but here are a few just because I took them. As you can see, it has been bleak and cold here. Mercifully, we haven't had much snow to go with the cold. But it was 7 degrees most of the day yesterday. Brrrr... and Yuck!


Herewith ends today's whine. I do hope you'll check out Pandora. It's wonderful.

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And Now for Something Sort of Different...

I thought this was kind of entertaining. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Every Day

Shannon took this picture last year. Isn't it lovely?

When I was a little girl, we had a couple of big books called the St. Nicholas Anthologies. They were full of delightful poems and wonderful stories from a magazine that had been published in the 1800s and early 1900s. One of my very favorites was this one by W.D. Howells. I don't know why it is so precious to me. Maybe because it's part of a happy family memory. I think my father read it to me so maybe it feels like I had the relationship with him that the little girl in the story has with her father. In any case, I force everyone I know to listen to or read it. I remind my nieces and nephew about it every year. It's kind of corny and kitchy, but I love it. I decided to share it here in hopes that some of you will enjoy it as much as I do. My apologies in advance for the typos.


by W.D. Howells

The little girl came into her papa's study, as she always did Saturday morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he began:

"Well, once there was a little pig-----"

She put her hand over his mouth and stopped him at the word. She said she had heard little pig stories till she was perfectly sick of them.

"Well, what kind of story shall I tell, then?"

""About Christmas. It's getting to be the season. It's past Thanksgiving already."

"It seems to me," argued her papa, "that I've told as often about Christmas as I have about little pigs."

"No difference! Christmas is more intresting."

"Well!" Her papa roused himself from his writing by a great effort. "Well, then, I'll tell you about the little girl that wanted it Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?"

"First rate!" said the little girl; and she nestled into comfortable shape in his lap, ready for listening.

"Very well, then, this little pig, ----- Oh, what are you pounding me for?"

"Because you said little pig instead of little girl."

"I should like to know what's the difference between a little pig and a little girl that wanted it Christmas every day!"

"Papa, said the little girl, warningly, "if you don't go on, I'll give it to you!" And at this her papa darted off like lightning, and began to tell the story as fast as he could.

Well, once there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year; and as soon as Thanksgiving was over, she began to send postal card to the old Christmas Fairy to ask if she mighn't have it. But the old Fairy never answered any of the postals; and after a while, the little girl found out that the Fairy was pretty particular, and wouldn't notice anything but letters, not even correspondence cards in envelopes; but real letters on sheets of paper, and sealed outside with a monogram, - or your initial, any way. So, then, she began to send her letters; and in about three weeks -- or just the day before Christmas, it was -- she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having it longer.

The little girl was a good deal excited already, preparing for the old-fashioned once-a-year Christmas that was coming the next day, and perhaps the Fairy's promise didn't make such an impression on her as it would have made at some other time. She just resolved to keep it to herself, and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true; and then it slipped out of her mind altogether.

She had a splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let Santa Claus have a chance at the stockings, and in the morning she was up the first of anybody and went and felt them, and found hers all lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and grapes, and pocket-books and rubber balls and all kinds of small present, and her big brothers with nothing but the tongs in them, and her young lady sister's with a new silk umbrella, and her papa's and mama's with potatoes and pieces of coal wrapped up in tissue paper, just as they always had every Christmas. Then she waited around til the rest of the family were up, and she was the first to burst into the library, when the doors were opened, and look at the large presents laid out on the library table -- books, and portfolios and boxes of stationery, and breast-pins and dolls, and little stoves, and dozens of handkerchiefs, and ink-stands, and skates, and snow-shovels, and photograph frames, and little easels, and boxes of water-colors and Turkish paste, and nougat, and candied cherries, and dolls' houses, and water-proofs,-- and the big Christmas tree, lighted and standing in a waste-basket in the middle.

She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she did not want any breakfast; and the whole forenoon the presents kept pouring in that the expressman had not had time to deliver the night before; and she went 'round giving presents she had got for other people, and came home and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and plum-pudding and nuts and raisins and oranges and more candy, and then went out and coasted and came in with a stomach-ache, crying; and her papa said she would see if his house was turned into that sort of fool's paradise another year; and they had a light supper, and pretty early everybody went to bed cross.

Here the little girl pounded her papa in the back, again.

"Well, what now? Did I say pigs?"

"You made them act like pigs."

"Well, didn't they?"

"No matter; you oughtn't to put it into a story."

"Very well, then, I'll take it all out."

Her father went on:

The little girl slept very heavily, and she slept very late, but she was wakened at last by the other children dancing 'round her bed with their stockings full of presents in their hands.

"What is it?" said the little girl, and she rubbed her eyes and tried to rise up in bed.

"Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" they all shouted, and waved their stockings.

"Nonsense! It was Christmas yesterday."

Her brothers and sisters just laughed. "We don't know about that. It's Christmas today, anyway. You come into the library and see."

Then all at once it flashed on the little girl that the Fairy was keeping her promise, and her year of Christmases was beginning. She was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang up like a lark--a lark that had overeaten itself and gone to bed cross--and darted into the library. There it was again! Books, and portfolios, and boxes of stationary and breast-pins------

"You needn't go over it all, Papa; I guess I can remember just what was there," said the little girl.

"Well, and there was the Christmas-tree blazing away, and the family picking out their presents, but looking pretty sleepy, and her father perfectly puzzled and her mother ready to cry. "I'm sure I don't know how I'm to dispose of all these things," said her mother, and her father said it seemed to him they had had something just like it the day before, but he supposed he must have dreamed it. This struck the little girl as the best kind of joke; and so she ate so much candy she didn't want any breakfast and went 'round carrying presents and had turkey and cranberry for dinner and then went out and coasted, and came in with a----


"Well, what now?"

"What did you promise, you forgetful thing?"

"Oh! oh, yes!"

Well, the next day, it was just the same thing over again, but everybody getting crosser; and at the end of a week's time so many people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers anywhere; they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to recover their tempers they usually got somebody else's, and it made the most dreadful mix.

The little girl began to get frightened, keeping the secret all to herself; she wanted to tell her mother, but she didn't dare to; she was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed ungrateful and ill-bred, and she thought she would try to stand it, but she hardly knew how she could, for a whole year. So it went on and on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine's Day, and Washington's Birthday just the same as any day, and it didn't skip even the First of April, though everything was counterfeit that day, and that was some little relief.

After a while, coal and potatoes began to be awfully scarce, so many had been wrapped up in tissue paper to fool papas and mamas with. Turkeys got to be about a thousand dollars apiece---


"Well, what?"

"You're beginning to fib."

"Well, two thousand then."

And they got to passing off almost anything for turkeys,--half-grown hummingbirds, and even rocs out of the Arabian Nights,"--the real turkeys were so scarce. And cranberries--well, they asked a diamond apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas-trees, and where the woods and orchards used to be, it looked just like a stubble-field, with the stumps. After a while they had to make Christmas-trees out of rags, and stuff them with bran, like old-fashioned dolls' but there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they couldn't get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poor-house, except the confectioners, and the fancy storekeepers, and the picture book sellers, and the expressmen; and they all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to buy; it was perfectly shameful.

Well, after it had gone on about three or four months, the little girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those great ugly lumpy stockings dangling at the fire-place and the disgusting presents around everywhere, used to just sit down and burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted; she couldn't even cry anymore; she just lay on the lounge and rolled her eyes and panted. About the beginning of October she took to sitting down on dolls, wherever she found them,--French dolls, or any kind,--she hated the sight of them so; and by Thanksgiving she was crazy, and just slammed her presents across the room.

By that time people didn't carry presents around nicely any more. They flung them over the fence, or through the window, or anything; and instead of running their tongues out and taking great pains to write "For dear Papa," Or "Mama", or "Brother," or "Sister," or "Susie," Or "Sammie," or Billie," or "Bobby," or Jimmie," or "Jennie," Or whoever it was, and troubling to get the spelling right, and then signing their names, and "Xmas 188-," they used to write in the gift books, "Take it, you horrid old thing!" and then go and bang it against the front door. Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their presents, but pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to let them lie out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used to come and tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk, or they would arrest them.

"I thought you said everybody had gone to the poor-house," interrupted the little girl.

"They did go, at first," said her papa; "but after a while the poor-houses got so full that they had to send people back to their own houses. They tried to cry when they got back, but they couldn't make the least sound."

"Why couldn't they?"

"Because they had lost their voices, saying 'Merry Christmas' so much. Did I tell you how it was on the Fourth of July?"

"No, how was it?" And the little girl nestled closer, in expectation of something uncommon.

Well, the night before, the boys stayed up to celebrate, as they always do, and fell asleep before twelve o'clock, as usual, expecting to be awakened by the bells and cannon. But it was nearly eight o'clock before the first boy in the United States woke up, and then he found out what the trouble was. As soon as he could get his clothes on, he ran out of the house and smashed a big cannon-torpedo down on the pavement; but it didn't make any more noise than a damp wad of paper, and, after he tried about twenty or thirty more, he began to pick them up and look at them. Every single torpedo was a big raison! Then he just streaked it upstairs and examined his fire-crackers and toy pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks, and found they were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks! Before ten o'clock, every boy in the United States found out that his Fourth of July things had turned into Christmas things; and then they just sat down and cried,--they were so mad. There are about twenty million boys in the United States, and so you can imagine what a noise they made. Some men got together before night, with a little powder that hadn't turned into purple sugar yet, and they said they would fire off one cannon, anyway. But the cannon burst into a thousand pieces, for it was nothing but rock candy, and some of the men nearly got killed. The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas carols, and when anybody tried to read the Declaration, instead of saying, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary," he was sure to sing "God rest you, merry gentlemen." It was perfectly awful.

The little girl drew a deep sigh of satisfaction.

"And how was it at Thanksgiving?" she asked.

Her papa hesitated. "Well, I'm almost afraid to tell you. I'm afraid you'll think it's wicked."

"Well, tell, anyway.," said the little girl.

Well, before it came Thanksgiving, it had leaked out who had caused all these Christmases. The little girl had suffered so much that she had talked about it in her sleep; and after that, hardly anybody would play with her. People just perfectly despised her, because if it had not been for her greediness, it wouldn't have happened; and now, when it came Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have squash-pie and turkey, and show their gratitude, they said that all the turkeys had been eaten up for her old Christmas dinners, and if she would stop the Christmases, they would see about the gratitude. Wasn't it dreadful? And the very next day the little girl began to send letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then telegrams, to stop it. But it didn't do any good; and then she got to calling at the Fairy's house, but the girl that came to the door always said "Not at home," or "Engaged," or "At dinner," or something like that; and so it went on till it came to the old once-a year Christmas Eve. The little girl fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning---

"She found it was all nothing but a dream," suggested the little girl.

"No indeed!" said her papa. "It was all every bit true!"

"Well, what did she find out then?"

"Why, that it wasn't Christmas at last, and wasn't ever going to be, any more. Now it's time for breakfast."

The little girl held her papa fast around the neck.

"You shan't go if you're going to leave it so!"

"How do you want it left?"

"Christmas once a year."

"All right," said her papa' and he went on again.

Well, there was the greatest rejoicing all over the country, and it extended clear up into Canada. The people met together everywhere, and kissed and cried for joy. The city carts went around and gathered up all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into the river; and it made the fish perfectly sick; and the whole United States, as far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the children were burning their gift-books and presents of all kinds. They had the greatest time!

"The little girl went to thank the old Fairy because she had stopped its being Christmas, and she said she hoped she would keep her promise, and see that Christmas never, never came again. Then the fairy frowned, and asked her if she was sure she knew what she meant; and the little girl asked her, why not? and the old Fairy said that now she was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she'd better look out. This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a thousand years; and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten, and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she was agreed. Then the little girl said, "What are your shoes made of?" And the fairy said "Leather." And the little girl said, "Bargain's done forever," and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home, she was so glad.

"How will that do?" asked the papa.

"First-rate!" said the little girl; but she hated to have the story stop, and was rather sober. However, her mama put her head in at the door and asked her papa:

"Are you never coming to breakfast?" What have you been telling that child?

"Oh, just a moral tale."

The little girl caught him around the neck again.

"We know! Don't you tell what Papa!" Don't you tell what!"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Health Care

(Please scroll down for the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge)

I'm pretty unhappy with Congress right now. Although there are individuals in both houses who have courage and decency, the majority seem to have sold their votes and the well-being of the American people to special interests. I'm really angry that Lieberman seems to have effectively blocked any form of public option. Expanding Medicare seemed like a great idea to me, less frightening to people than other suggestions up for discussion.

Even though I'm not happy with what's being done - or what I understand is being done from the confusing and self-contradictory reports in the media - I guess I'm of the belief that any step in the direction of reform is better than leaving things as they are. It's all very discouraging. Here's wht the President has to say:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 93

This is week 93 of the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. Still bitterly cold here. Was 5 degrees last night but has warmed up to a balmy 20 at present. The sun is out, though, which at least in my cozy little house, makes it feel less miserable. Of course I'm inside, which also helps.

I'm thinking that what with Christmas and New Year's Day both landing on Friday, this year, maybe I should have another wordzzle break and bring us back on the 8/9th of January (next YEAR!). I suggest this on the theory that those of you with real lives will be busy with children and grand children and shopping and parties and cooking family dinners and the other exciting things that people who leave their houses engage in. So... until next year....

A note to the Dragons. I'm sorry that you don't like the phrases and would prefer lists of single words, but from my perspective, the mix of phrases is part of where the real challenge lies and I have to go where the muse takes me. It takes me to strange wordy places, sometimes - I grant you that - but much as I respect Dragons, the Muse is the ruler of this particular challenge. That said, you are welcome to supply us with a list or lists for future weeks. We Ravens are a lazy lot, and love a break whenever we can get one.

Words for this week's 10-word challenge were: spaghetti, woe is me, mythology, avarice, windy, pathetic, paper towels, water, all my children, books And for the mini: best deals of the week, Nobel Peace Prize, sleep deprived, cauliflower, practice

My 10-word:

Woe is me
cried the beleaguered mother of 2 sets of twins - all 4 children under age 6. All my children love spaghetti and eat with a level of avarice that is almost frightening, she moaned. There's not enough paper towel and water to get them clean after one of these meals. I'm so tired it's pathetic and their father disappears like leaves on a windy day when there's dirty work to be done. I get the hard part and he gets "Book Time." The stories of Greek mythology are their favorites. They are going to grow up to be quite something, my kids, but if I don't get some help from him soon, my husband will not live to see it.

The mini:

Best Deals of the Week,
the ad screamed is garden fresh Cauliflower. But I hate cauliflower, Melinda moaned. She was seriously sleep deprived, practicing her speech about the breakthrough that she and Melvin had made in the field (ironically) of dream research. She was so excited about their discoveries and her own dreams included the joy of accepting the Nobel Peace Prize and the glory and big check that went with it. Dreams were good, she though, nodding off, except when they involved giant talking heads of cauliflower.

The maxi:

It was fun seeing my book listed as one of the best deals of the week, especially this one. Of all my children's books, my favorite is the one that won a Nobel Peace Prize for literature - and not just because it won, either. I wrote it at such a strange time in my life... I was sleep deprived and feeling pathetic and all "woe is me," and tragic. I was living on a diet of cauliflower and spaghetti - an awful combination of foods, but all I could afford. I had started a practice of daily meditation and of trying to live my life with "meditative mindfulness." Let me tell you in all truth, that I thought it was a load of hogwash, but I was pretty desperate so I had been sticking with it because a major depression was sucking me in like quicksand and I didn't want to drown. So, anyway, one morning I got up from a very unpeaceful meditation and knocked a glass of water over in the process. I was starting to freak out when I remembered the whole mindfulness thing so I slowed myself down and tore the paper towel gently from the roll and sat and watched as the liquid miraculously soaked up into it's pockets. I don't know exactly what happened next except that the whole mythology of the town of Avarice Mountain along with Windy Wilson, Samson Songbird and the others sprang into my mind fully developed, like they had been there all along. It was as though something in me had been set free. After that all I had to do was write it down. And two years later - another miracle - I was a best selling author and then a Nobel Prize winner. Needless to say, I continue to meditate and ideas continue to flow and best of all, I'm married and even though they don't know that Mama wrote them, the Avarice Mountain books are my own children's favorites. How cool is that!


Words for next week's 10-word challenge are: space cadet, silver lining, wood, turtle soup, minaret, ice, grease, sales, mandala, mug

And for the mini: broken bones, slide rule, garbage, Chinese, sanguine

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you in two weeks!


Red & The Lazarus Effect

I thought this was worth sharing. I received it in my email from a very worthy organization called One. One is an organization that campaigns for global social and political change to make the ONE world we share a better place for all of us (or that's my understanding... they explain it better themselves). The video is by another organization called (Red), which given the insanity of the right was probably a really poor choice, but... The idea of (Red) is that any red item you purchase from participating manufacturers or organizations also offers a donation The Global Fund which buys and distibutes medicines to prevent HIV/AIDS. Pretty easy way to do good.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Well, my roof snow awnings in front of the house fell down a half hour ago, but I managed to get some melting icicle pictures first. Luckily we haven't had too much snow so far. Unluckily, it's 20 degrees out... but there's SUN (yippee!). I have company due in a while so I'd better get this posted and finish reading this week's wordzzles. Happy Day everyone!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 92

This is week 92 of the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. It's gray and gloomy here, and 15 degrees out. The snow has just started up again, but we aren't expecting much accumulation. I've got the winter blues though and had to squeeze these offerings out past much resistance to doing ANYTHING. Looking forward to reading what the rest of you have written.

Words for this week's 10-word challenge were: sugar, mortgage, logical, roller skates, outlandish, Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, cumberbund, unexpected, photo album, scarecrow And for the mini: tomatoes, turtles, basement apartment, circumference, make my day

My 10-word:

Madison sat looking through her parents' old photo album, her eyes welling with unexpected emotion as she traveled down memory lane. So many precious and half forgotten moments. The outlandish scarecrow costume from her first Halloween, a picture of her in her roller skates, hair tousled, face flushed with pride of accomplishment and excitement. With Santa at Macy's (Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus, her father had intoned when she started to express doubts). Then prom and wedding photos, her beloved Henry decked out and handsome. He had hated that purple cumberbund, but she had insisted and - sweet man that he was - he had agreed. In hindsight, he had been right. It was hideous. What had she been thinking. Then there were photos of the first house... such a sweet place it had been. Her parents had helped them buy it and her father - whose blend of logical and sentimental was always amusing - had been there taking photos when they signed the mortgage, crossed the threshold. She had often found his obsessive photo taking annoying but now she was so grateful to have all these moments saved for her own aching heart and so that she could share them with the children and grandchildren. She would have to take more pictures herself from now on in hopes that some day they would comfort her children as her father's album was comforting her now. Hugging it close, she rose, put on her coat and headed out to meet the others and go on to the funeral.

The mini:

Her basement apartment had never looked more beautiful. The HGTV decorator from the new Make My Day program had worked a Christmas miracle. The walls were tomato red (who would have thought to do that?) but they looked beautiful and right somehow. They had even made a special beautiful environment for her turtles around the circumference of the living room. It was awesome. A miracle. Hey had not only made her day, they had made her year.

My mega:

Michael Dinglebottom loved holidays and loved decorating for them. He had even had a side business to help others decorate. He called it Make My Day Decorations and unbeknownst to Virginia, he was making pretty good money which he had been storing in a secret account.
He kept a special photo album of these efforts. It had a tomato red cover and was labeled Holiday Delights. His long-suffering and beloved wife Virginia put up with his enthusiasm, though she shared it only to a point. Since they lived in a basement apartment with no yard to decorate, she let him decorate inside and hang a scarecrow on the front door every Halloween and she put on one outlandish costume or another of his choosing each year to give out candy to the neighbor hood children. At Christmas time, he put decorations everywhere - even in the turtles' terrarium - and with the landlord's permission - around the whole circumference of the brownstone apartment building in which they lived. For her part, she baked hundreds of sugar cookies for the kids at school and for the people at his office, shopped for the kids and wrapped packages galore. This year the boys were getting fancy roller skates and a Nintendo Wii. She was kind of excited about that herself. It looked like fun, even to the pragmatic and logical Virgina. But this year she was worried. Michael seemed preoccupied and he had put barely any attention into the decorations. All was revealed on Christmas Eve, when he unexpectedly asked her and the boys to dress in their best clothes for what he called a "special outing." He himself was decked out in a tux - with a cumberbund, no less! In the car he put Christmas carols on the radio and was literally beaming with joy as he drove them to their mystery destination. About an hour outside the city he pulled up in front of a house that was lavishly decorated with lights and a huge sign that read, "yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." "It's the one you always wanted, the one we looked at years ago. I've been saving all the money from the decorating business in a special "Ginny's House" account," he beamed. "Merry Christmas, baby. Welcome home." he said, "Here's the mortgage. It's ours. I hope you don't mind that I picked it without you. I wanted it to be a surprise." The boys - who had know about their father's plan and viewed it kind of like a home makeover show - were literally jumping up and down with delight and yelling "bus driver move that bus," which made no sense but amused them beyond measure. When Virginia finally got her voice, "You!, I wish I had gotten you a better gift!" was all she could gasp out flinging her arms around her elated husband. "It's really ours? I love you! Let's go inside!"


Words for next week's 10-word challenge are: spaghetti, woe is me, mythology, avarice, windy, pathetic, paper towels, water, all my children, books

And for the mini: best deals of the week, Nobel Peace Prize, sleep deprived, cauliflower, practice

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

First Snow

We had our first snow yesterday. It was what I call "tasetful" snow and is my favorite kind... soft, fluffy and just enough to make everything look like lace for a short time before it melts away. Skies were a bit gray and these aren't the best pictures, but...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 91

This is week 90 of the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. Not terribly pleased with my results this week, but at least I got them done. Looking forward to seeing what you have all come up with.

Thanks again to Argent for this week's words. They were:
edge, haven, sunglasses, sprightly, telling, frazzled, juicy, quartet, tied, necklace And for the mini: bees, crackling, wooden, staple, earful

My mini:

Despite the stunned, wooden expression on her face, Sandra Johnson was livid. For the first time in her life, she understood the expression "bees in your bonnet." Anger was crackling and surging inside her and she couldn't wait to give Marilyn Staples an earful about just what she thought of someone who would flirt with another woman's husband. Martin might not be much, but he was hers and she loved him.

The 10-word:

Georgette Haven was awed at the amazing change in her life circumstances. Who would have thought that the slightly frazzled, sprightly old man (wearing sun glasses on a cloudy day) would turn out to be her savior. Two weeks ago she had been at the edge of the abyss, hungry homeless, alone and in despair. "Your shoe's not tied," she has whispered to him, "careful or you might trip." Telling him had seemed like the right, natural thing to do, nothing special. He had stopped at her words, though, and she had bent down and laced it for him. A simple act of kindness. Now here she was in an opulent room, dressed in a beautiful gown, a diamond necklace hanging at her throat. Heads had turned as she entered the room. She wasn't sure, but she thought perhaps cameras had even flashed. She had never been anywhere so fine, never felt so beautiful. A string quartet played quietly in the background. Her host smiled at her with both kindness and admiration and pulled out a chair. "Ah, what a juicy story we make for the tabloids, my dear... the billionaire and the mystery woman. You think I'm a miracle in your life, but it is in fact the other way around. You awakened my heart with your pure kindness and now it is yours if you will have it." And she would. It was not about the money, either. He was the kindest man she had ever met, an angel on earth. She felt the luckiest woman alive... and perhaps she was.

My mega:

Edge Haven was the perfect retreat for healing frazzled nerves. It was late afternoon and Margaret lay stretched out at pool side, feeling relaxed and at ease for the first time in months. She temporarily set aside Sarah's Necklace, the juicy romance novel she had brought with her, to soak up her surroundings. The book, which was the 2nd installment in a quartet of romances by the same author was a bit disappointing. She had enjoyed the first (Wooden Idols) immensely, but she was having trouble getting into this one. Maybe it was the distractions around her. On her left she watched as a trio of bees hovered and darted among the burst of colorful, sweet smelling flowers that filled a corner of the pool area not far from where she lay. Across the pool the hot, sprightly young waiter was apparently telling a joke to a middle-aged couple in matching outfits (even their sunglasses were identical!) who were laughing uproariously. Off to her right a mother re-tied the straps on her teen-aged daughter while giving her earful about modesty and virtue. In another corner, another handsome young staff member had started a crackling fire in anticipation of the daily barbecue which was a staple of the "Edge Haven experience." Margaret took a deep breath and sighed. She was content. For the first time since Janie had died, since Mark had left her, she felt like she belonged in the world again. Odd that she had had to get away from it all to feel like she could be part of things again. She had thought he therapist crazy when he had told her to get away, had insisted and pushed until he broke through her resistance. She was would have to thank him for his wisdom when she returned to the world again. For now, she would just soak it all in and enjoy herself.


Words for next week's 10-word challenge are: sugar, mortgage, logical, roller skates, outlandish, Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, cumberbund, unexpected, photo album, scarecrow

And for the mini: tomatoes, turtles, basement apartment, circumference, make my day

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Would that We Could Wage Peace

I hate war. It never seems like a good idea to me. What President Obama seems to be suggesting is trying to wage peace using the military. I don't know that that's possible, but it bothers me minimally less than just going into a country to kill people.

The truth is I don't have a clue as to what's the right thing to do or not to do. Most of the people who walk around opining on the subject don't either. We don't know all there is to know about what's going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We know some stuff and almost all of what we know - "news" being what it is today - is filtered through the lens of opinion and political bias.

Under our previous President, we invaded two countries. As Colin Powell said at the time, "you break it you buy it," so much as I wish we hadn't invaded these countries, I don't think we can just drop bombs on them and then say... "oops, my bad, see ya."

I don't know if President Obama is making the right choice. I know he has at least thought about it. He has at least listened to many voices. What some call "dithering," I call taking seriously putting human lives in the path of danger. Whether he has made the right decision or the wrong one - and I don't envy him the choice - he has taken it seriously.

I've been reading his book "Dreams from My Father," which I highly recommend. Beautifully written and very honest.

I hope his strategy works and accomplishes the mission of helping the Afghan people to defend themselves. I wish people would stop killing each other. I wish people would stop using God's name to kill each other. I wish people didn't get murdered and raped for gold or diamonds or oil. I wish politicians had less power to cause mayhem wherever they tread. I wish children didn't go hungry or die of preventable diseases. I wish people didn't use Christianity and Islam and Judaism to justify killing one another. But alas, they do.

Most of all, I wish for Peace on Earth, for a world in which nobody goes hungry or homeless for any reason. I wish that people for whom the holy dollar is more important than the lives of their fellow citizens would stop talking about what would Jesus do and start doing what he would do. I wish that we lived in a world where we looked for the good and not the bad in our fellow beings, where we nurtured creativity and hope and joy and the natural gifts that every child is born with.

I wish we weren't adding to war. It may be the right decision, but I wish - right or wrong - that it was a decision no world leader will ever have to make again.

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